WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (March 8, 2013) – William & Mary scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to come back and defeat Rutgers baseball, 4-3, in the series opener Friday at Pulmeri Park. It was the first time since 2007 the teams met on the diamond.
Seniors Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) and Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) each went 3-for-4 to lead RU offensively, with Zavala connecting for his second career home run in the fourth inning. Senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) also had a multiple-hit game with two singles in his first start at first base this season.
On the mound, senior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) turned in another strong effort to put the Scarlet Knights in position to win. The left-hander did not allow an earned run in seven complete innings, scattering seven hits to go with four punchouts. He was aided by three double plays in the infield in the no-decision.
Rutgers (2-8) fell behind early in the game in part to committing four errors in the top of the first. The first two hitters reached via miscues and eventually came around to score. The first run plated on a fielder’s choice, while the second counted on a rare obstruction call around the third base bag.
The score stayed that way until the fourth when Zavala rocketed a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right field to tie the score on a two-run homer. Melillo started the frame with a single and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.). Then with two down, Zavala drove one out of the park.
Smorol and W&M starter Brett Koehler kept the score deadlocked through the middle innings, trading zeros on the scoreboard until the top of the seventh. With one out, junior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) reached on an error and advanced all the way to third on a wild pitch. Following a strikeout, junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) ripped a solid RBI line drive single to right field to give RU its first lead of the day, 3-2.
It stayed that way until the Tribe rallied in the bottom of the eighth. A leadoff walk to William Shaw started the jam, with the runner then being forced at second on a bunt for the first out. After Ryan Hissey advanced to second on a wild pitch, Ryan Williams flew out to left for the second out. However, Jackson Shaver put up a tough at bat and struck a ball into left field to tie the score on a clutch RBI single, moving into scoring position on the throw home. After a pitching change, Jonathan Sarty grounded a ball up the middle that trickled far enough away to allow Shaver to score for the go-ahead run.
Mitchell Aker followed with a perfect ninth inning to earn his third save of the season. John Sheehan (1-0) picked up the win out of the bullpen for the Tribe (9-4), while RU senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) (0-3) suffered the loss.
The Scarlet Knights will look to shake off the loss in game two of the series Saturday with senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) on the mound. First pitch at Pulmeri Park is set for 4 p.m.